The Tarot Series
An Anthology of Depressive Realism
O- The Fool
By: Andrew Pan
Lard-ass. Fatty. Hippo. Cow. Triple Thick. Double Decker.
These are just some of the words that flew around Laylan’s head as she walked from her audition to her job a few blocks away. Once these insults were things that she heard on a daily basis in school from her peers. They echoed in her mind as she left the audition space defeated. The actual words of the casting director reverberated around her as well.
“I’m sorry, you’re just not really the right type for us.”
Lard-ass, her mind reminded her.
“We just think that this role would suit better for a healthier bodied person.”
Fatty. Her brain echoed.
“I could give you some recommendations of people who I think could help you out but beyond that we can’t really do anything for you.”
“Truly, if you’re wanting to go far in this industry you’re going to have to shape it up quite a bit.”
Triple Thick. Double Decker. The words, the memories of the bullying, came back fresh and still stung just as well. What broke Laylan’s heart most though was that the girl going in after her was of similar size to what Laylan was when she first moved to the city. She knew the audition would be ten times rougher for that girl than it was for Laylan, but she still didn’t stop her from going in.She thought about that too on her way to work, how she could’ve possibly saved that girl a lot of heartbreak and pain. But no one did that for Laylan when she first arrived so why should she?
It was hard to believe that it had hardly been a year since Laylan had packed up her Xterra with all that she had and pulled away from her high school graduation to head for the city. She had dreamed her whole life of becoming something worthwhile. She wanted desperately to be at the tip of the tongues of the whole world and she was willing to do anything to get there, even move half way across the country with no job, little money and no set place to live. Despite her family and friends pleading with her she stayed in the city, forgetting to mention to any of them that she did not have a friend from cheer camp that lived in the city and that she lived in her car whenever she couldn’t afford a cot at the closest hostile until she eventually was able to afford a small hole in the wall studio apartment that was cheap enough for her to be able to just scrape by.
That summer she clamored to find work any way she could and eventually landed the coveted title of perfume sprayer at the local mall. She went to auditions day after day, hour after hour, never landing a single one, all with the same critique: lose weight. Night after night she would come back to the mall and mist the air around shoppers, smiling and modeling the product in hopes that just one of them would notice her (in more ways than one). She focused most of her charisma towards anyone that even remotely resembled show biz management.
Today was going to be like no other, she thought as she walked into the mall. She did her usual scope of the crowds as she walked, checking to see if she could find even the slightest arrow collar or fake tan matched with a prada bag; all signs of someone with money and when you have money you have connections. She walked into her store but before she could even get all the way inside her manager pulled her to the side.
“Laylan.” she sighed. “I’m not sure how to put this.”
“Put what?” Laylan responded with furrowed brows.
“Well, some of our customers have expressed… concern over your appearance.”
“My appearance? Whats wrong? Wait, is it because that one time I had holes in my jeans? I bought them like that! From here!”
“No no no.” Her manager interrupted. “It’s not your clothes. See, there are some people that have just been very worried and frankly uncomfortable with your body and your, ugh, well your lifestyle.” The manager looked at Laylan feigning the worst fake sympathy smile that she had ever seen. Laylan fought tears when the manager pulled out a sealed envelope which she knew would contain her last check.
“Wait, you can’t! I need this job!” Laylan cried.
“I’m sorry, dear. We just can’t support or afford this kind of negative attention that you bring to the store. You will leave immediately.” The manager handed Laylan the check and took a step back. She looked around the store to see multiple customers had stopped to witness the scene.
Out of the small crowd of customers two men in black uniforms stepped forward at the manager’s signal.
“You can’t do this to me! I need this job!” Laylan screamed, shrugging off the security officer’s hands. More people gathered outside the store now.
“Ma’am we’re going to have to ask you to turn around and leave peacefully or you will be forcibly removed by the authorities.” One of the security officers said. Laylan’s face was drenched with tears now and she looked desperately to the crowd for some form of help that never came.
Triple Thick. Double Decker.
She ran out of the mall and sped down the sidewalk. She clung to the bannister of her apartment building stairs as she bolted up each flight until she breathlessly made it inside her small studio apartment. She dropped her bags and covered her face with her hands as she walked over to the sink and mirror. She rubbed the tears from her eyes until her vision cleared once again.
A skeletal reflection stared back at her, hunched and sharp. Her bony hips and shoulders seemed to be the only thing holding up her dress and her hair hung long and dark but thin near the scalp showing a spreading rash. Her face was long and thin with sunken eyes and cheeks that seemed to almost cut through the skin. Her tears soaked her face leaving traces of her makeup down her cheeks.
It was roughly a year prior when Laylan had been denied her 3rd audition in a row with the same critique. She was advised to try to be below 130lbs if she truly wanted to be successful in the industry. Laylan’s ambition was unmatched. She would do anything if it meant she would be one step closer to success. Little did she know that it would cost more than she bargained for.
She did all she could to lose the weight. It started small like most important things do, she cut out junk food and began exercising but that wasn’t working like she needed it to. She began to leave out meals altogether and when that didn’t work she purged when she did eat. She pushed herself harder, no longer drove to work or to auditions, walking everywhere in addition to her exercise. Most days she would eat 3 saltines and 2 cubes of cheese to keep herself going, but on this day she had nothing. And the day before that she had nothing.
And the day before that.
And before that.
She still stood there crying, thinking of all the offers for help she had turned down from her friends and family and how now she was alone, jobless and would inevitably be kicked out of her home. Then her phone vibrated and chirped in her pocket. Shaking she drew it out to see “Momma” written at the top of the screen. She reached her finger toward the deny button but before she could slide it she gasped and fell hard, hitting her head on the corner of the sink on the way down. Her hand hit accept as she fell.
“Hello?” her mother called out.
But Laylan didn’t hear her. Her eyes stared at the ceiling, glazed and lifeless.